The following is my reply to Zamir Thind’s response to Uri Fishelson’s letter. While this exchange might be seen as a lot of responding, I believe this is pivotal in having a civil, academic debate.
First of all, prefacing opinions with an apology not only diminishes the argument, but also does not make the issues less offensive. Secondly, taking a 10-week college course about a convoluted and controversial 100-plus-year-old issue does not legitimize Thind’s point.
In addition to comparing Judaic ideals to those of the Nazis, Thind calls for Jews to “get over” the Holocaust and stop using it as an excuse for “everything wrong with Israeli policies.” There is only one problem: we cannot get over it, nor should we get over it.
We “play” the “woe is me card” because we must inform people of what happened. We must ensure that those murdered during the Holocaust and World War II did not perish in vain. We are not complaining. We are educating.
If we get over it, should we also overlook Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Armenia, Darfur and the Sikh genocide? I hope that such atrocious events are never forgotten in history. And for that matter, why aren’t people complaining about the Sikh genocide? No awareness can be garnered if no attention is raised. Do people not care about the extermination of their own culture? I do. We do. That is why we talk about it, educate others about it and always remember it.
Thind argues that Nazis and Jews are similar because they want to preserve their race. But isn’t the goal of any group to try to preserve its culture, ideals and heritage? As far as I know, neither Jews (a religion) nor Nazis (a political party) were their own races. His linkage of the two puts them on the same scale, which is like saying that the unthinkable extermination of six million people is somehow equivalent to anything Israel has done.
Anti-Semitism is defined as a prejudice against or hostility toward Jews. I faced this here in Davis, as I was personally called a Nazi during the event mentioned in Fishelson’s letter. Besides being extremely hurt as I was equated to the murderer of my relatives, I was, quite frankly, disappointed that these views are still held in such an educated and progressive community.
No, I personally do not believe that being anti-Israel is the same as being anti-Semitic. There is a clear-cut distinction between being Jewish and agreeing with or opposing Israeli policies. Yes, I disagree with certain actions of the Israeli government, much like some people feel about the actions of their own countries. But if Thind wants to distinguish between anti-Israel and anti-Semitism, he should focus more on his primary thesis. He should avoid embarking on irrelevant tangents by comparing the Jews to the Nazis, the victims to the murderers.